It’s time to talk about the adorable green elephant in the room: what will The Mandalorian do when we discover Baby Yoda’s true nature? The major (and heavily memed) hook of the series focuses on the mysterious origins of the unknown creature’s species, yet that question may have shorter legs than The Child.
Is that a concern? Probably not if early glimpses of The Mandalorian season 2 are anything to go by. The Disney Plus series is already laying the foundations for life after Baby Yoda – and in doing so, showrunner Jon Favreau is showing signs that he has learnt from some of Star Wars’ biggest missteps.
Baby Yoda, despite its short frame, casts a long shadow on The Mandalorian. However, although the puppet has an uncanny knack to break the internet at will, that doesn’t mask the fact that his journey lives and dies on answers. Once we know where it is from, the creature loses some of that mystique. If we don’t get an answer, the show risks spinning it wheels in search of something ungraspable.
Sure, Mando might choose to keep the Child by his side after the show’s main arc has concluded, but how long can the show hang its hat on Baby Yoda? Thankfully, plans are in place to sidestep that argument entirely by using The Mandalorian as fertile ground to plant a franchise-within-a-franchise.
Those who have kept out of the loop – deliberately or otherwise – for this new season may be surprised by how the show has silently widened its scope in the interim. There are a handful of interesting casting choices and potential character introductions from Star Wars tales new and old to freshen things up.
Boba Fett, for one, is likely to be a focus in The Mandalorian, at least this year (The Mandalorian season 3 has already been confirmed). Actor Temuera Morrison will reportedly return to the franchise after playing Jango Fett in the prequel trilogy. A new character played by Timothy Olyphant, meanwhile, is set to don the armour of the legendary bounty hunter – how exactly he got Fett’s armour remains to be seen.
So, that link to the original trilogy is one way to draw lapsed fans in. Another is to mine the rich side stories and animated spin-offs that have populated television across the last decade and bring them into live-action.
It’s widely believed that Rosario Dawson will play Jedi Ahsoka Tano – one of the main players in The Clone Wars series – and Rebels’ Sabine Wren could appear in The Mandalorian season 2. Another name familiar to fans of the TV shows, Bo-Katan, may even make an appearance. The Mandalorian, then, has the potential to become a playground in which major new series are launched through backdoor pilots, all while offering love letters to fan-favourites.
It’s easy to forget that – beyond Baby Yoda, Boba Fett, and the introduction of Ahsoka – the beating heart of The Mandalorian is that it’s simply a solid serial show. The concept of The Mandalorian rocking up, Xena-style, and solving a town or spaceport’s problems and leaving on the ship he flew in on sticks true to the series’ space-Western roots and has plenty of potential as a long-term storytelling device.
By tweaking and refining that formula, attention can occasionally be drawn away from Baby Yoda and back on to Mando himself as he undertakes Witcher-style problem-of-the-week tasks that also feed into a larger narrative.
Take the first season’s fourth chapter, “Sanctuary”, as a blueprint for that sort of style. The Bryce Dallas Howard-directed episode didn’t push much forward in terms of overall plot, but added a deeper, more introspective take on who Mando is and what drives him as he saves a lowly village from an Imperial attack. That sort of plot may not be as grand as the eternal warring between Jedi and Sith, but it’s the sort of thing that can thrive almost endlessly under the right guiding hand. Say, a Jon Favreau or Dave Filoni. Which is handy.
Looking at Mandalorian as an example of Star Wars’ new approach, though, is perhaps the most striking development of all. These building blocks reflect a change in thinking on Lucasfilm’s part. The sequel Star Wars trilogy certainly had its detractors – both fair and unfair – but its refusal to commit to solid story arcs for its major players (even going as far as deciding on Rey’s lineage midway through filming Rise of Skywalker) was particularly egregious.
Now, even after the answer to Baby Yoda’s species gets answered, there’s plenty else to play with in a galaxy far, far away. That’s all thanks to the world-building, the wise decision to pick and choose from other existing media, and the limitless potential of the week-to-week format that works with the eponymous Mandalorian always at its centre. That forward-thinking needs to become the rule, not the exception, to the next decade of Star Wars stories.
Hopefully, Baby Yoda will stick around for some time to come. But if the unthinkable does happen and The Child flies the nest, The Mandalorian is still in safe hands.